Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Writing Prompt: Obama Lets Texas Secede!

What if President Obama decided to address all the White House Petitions out there, including those asking that certain states (Texas) be allowed to leave the union?

Sounds like a great writing prompt for speculative fiction writers.

I know, it's definitely fantasy, modern fantasy, to think that any of these petitions could ever turn to real action. Here is where fantasy writers step in. Craft a story where the impossible happens. 

Yahoo has an interesting piece on the "11 ridiculous White House Petitions."

Set your timer for 15 minutes, and write about it. You never know, you could have a story.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Is There A Battle Between Good And Evil?

My Mall Demons stories are based on one basic premise: There is a battle between good and evil.

The ultimate good is God. The ultimate evil is Satan. That is my universe as far as my writing is concerned. What is funny is that any fiction since the beginning of time deals with the same basic premise: Good vs Evil.

Think about it.

Writing Prompt: Death Speaks

Try this on for size:

Set your timer for 5, 10, 15 minutes. Then write about this:

A character walks into a room filled with people. The character makes an announcement:

"This is a fact: Within this room there is a 100 percent mortality rate. Everybody here will die. And in case you were wondering... I am Death."

Up for the challenge? Post your story here.

Can You Write A Science Fiction Story in 120 Words?

My students hated this assignment. But, the other day I showed up to class and presented this task:

Write a science fiction work with a beginning, middle and end in 120 words.

OK, on the fly the first draft of the story may be crap, but it's a great exercise. While I was in front of the class spurring my class on, I had a clipboard, paper and pen in hand to create my own 120-word science fiction piece.

Eventually, most of the students wrote, then read aloud their stories. I did, too. I figured I would share the pain. Although, the students didn't think it was fair since as they put it "I'm a writer who's used to such exercises." 


For what it's worth, here's what I put together "on the fly."

"I win!" Johanna shouted.
"Again!" John demanded.
They restarted the game.
Two spaceships flew towards Earth. The fugitive's ship was heavily damaged. The Galactic Officer targeted the fugitive's engines. The fugitive's ship went dead. He reached for the transportal device on his wrist. Like a shooting star, he fell.
"I win again!" Johanna pressed the controller button.
They were trapped.
"What happened!?" John, Johanna and the alien were in the video game.
"We need that device thingee!"
"Never!" The fugitive ran.
The intergalactic officer stared into the computer screen.
"He's too fast!" Johanna said.
"Who's that?"
They saw the face.
"It happened when I pressed the key! Like Omega13!"
The officer understood.
"I win!" Johanna shouted.

Writing With Your Eyes Closed Takes A Good Memory

I must confess I was feeling pretty lazy today. But, it's hard to feel lazy when you have a story in your head. I'm an expert at it, though.

Part of my problem today is that I'm struggling with a cold. I'm a major wimp when I'm sick. All I want to do is get under the covers and do nothing. I can't just lie there, though. I must create. So, I run through scenes in my mind with my eyes closed.

Maybe you're brain doesn't work that way, but I've been able to develop a skill of working out my next scene with my eyes closed. This only works if you can remember what you've done during such a session. I've learned enough about memory to understand that I must create a well-worn path so that I can remember my scene. 

If you're interested in terminology, what I'm talking about is a neural trace. I teach this to my freshmen students. Bottom line, it takes repetition. How's it work with my scene development? Like this:

In my mind's eye I create the scene I'm working on. I place my characters where they need to be. I construct the setting and then press play like I'm watching a DVD. I only go so far. I keep it to one scene. No scene changes. 

Everyone has their moments of dialogue. I throw in some narration, etc. Then, I press replay. I run through the entire scene again. Then, I press replay again and again and again and again. I may fall asleep pressing replay, but when I wake, I have the scene still in my head because I've developed a neural trace to come back to by repetition.

Over a week of being lazy, I might run through the same scene dozens of times. When I see something new to add, I do it. Eventually, I must write this down, but this mental skill has helped me keep working on a story when, for example, I'm lazy or sick and just don't want to sit at the keyboard.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Number One Question for Writers...

Here it is:

Are you a wimp?

Are you afraid of what your friends will say about your story? Maybe you're worried that your mother, father, children, cousins will recognize a character or situation in your story. Here's my response:

Who cares!?!

You can't free yourself as a writer if you're constantly thinking about how your words might offend someone. Here's what you must do: Accept the fact that your writing will offend people. Then, write anyway. 

Looking For Stories About Angels and Demons

Do you write stories that include angels and demons?

My Mall Demons stories focus on the classic battle between good and evil. Warrior angels battle against demons and their Army of the Night.

Anyone who writes similar fiction is welcome to submit their stories here. I'll post them all. For those who wonder, no payment, and I'm not demanding any publishing rights. You keep it all. I just want to share stories that match those I'm writing.

Is The Shopping Mall An Instrument of Evil?

Setting is very important in a story. When you're writing, consider setting as a character in your story.

In my Mall Demons stories, setting is crucial. Most of my action takes place in a shopping mall. My story deals with the classic battle between good and evil.

As I thought about setting, I figured demons nowadays would gravitate towards a mall. Why do you think? 

What do shopping malls have that demons might find attractive?

Death: Good or Bad as a Character?

Is Death good or bad?

As a fictional character, which is it? The Grim Reaper seems evil. But, could Death be a good character? Could it be that the kiss of Death is God's way of welcoming you to Heaven?

Which way would you write Death in your story?

Modern Fantasy and Allusions

I love allusions. They can pack a great punch for writers who want to lay out a great deal of meaning in a few words. I use them quite a bit in my writing of the Mall Demons Urban Fantasy stories.

What is an allusion? Basically a casual reference to a historical or literary character, event, or something. Some of the most powerful allusions - especially if  you're writing spiritual fiction - come from the Bible. Here's an example from one of my Mall Demons stories. Can you guess what story it comes from in the Bible?

From Chapter Four in the Mall Demons stories:

"We have roamed through this shopping center and have found it suitable for our needs," Sargas said.
At Sargas' words, the imps drew nearer again so that their evil faces appeared to be hovering in the darkness. Sargas continued.
"We have gone back and forth," he said. "Its inhabitants willingly belong to us."

And a little later:

"One has been chosen to prove he is blameless and upright. The chosen fears God and shuns evil. The fate of this ground shall be decided through him. The hedge around him shall be loosened."

Some of that dialogue is nearly word for word from the Bible. It is from a story that parallels what my protagonist is about to go through at this part of the Mall Demons story. My hope is if readers make the connection with the Biblical reference, they will then understand what my protagonist is about to go through.

Do  you use allusions in your writing? Whether you're writing Fantasy or another genre, give it a try.

Pedro Is Still Writing

It's late at night... I am watching the news... I'm drinking a beer. I'm about to make a huge transition in life. In about t...